Google Perspectives: A guide for charities and nonprofits
“A big part of what makes Search so helpful is its ability to connect you to the wisdom and experience of people all around the world.” - Google
As people's search habits evolve, driven by the surging popularity of social media platforms like TikTok, Google is adapting its user experience to cater to the demand for experience-driven content. Despite Google consistently dominating traditional search, new user behaviour requires new search capabilities.
What is the Perspectives tab in Google’s search results?
Perspectives is a new search filter which displays user-generated content from social media, video content and forums. Google describes Perspectives as “a way to learn from others’ experiences with more perspectives on Search.”
When making a typical Google search, you may see the ‘Perspectives’ tab appear alongside Images, News, Videos and other search filters. Using the Perspectives tab will show you results from sites such as YouTube and Reddit, and will be focused on content related to personal experiences.
What type of content is featured in Perspectives?
Perspectives gathers content from a variety of sources, including social media platforms, social video and forum content.
Here’s a look at the types of content which we’ve been able to identify so far within Perspectives:
- YouTube Videos
- TikTok Videos
- Reddit Threads
- Quora Posts
- Other forum websites, eg. Stack Overflow and Ask Meta Filter
We’d expect the types of results included to expand in the future - content such as Instagram Reels, blogs and new Threads by Meta to be relevant for Perspectives.
Who can access Perspectives?
Perspectives is currently available in mobile search results in the US only.
Google’s development of the new Perspectives feature has been a slow and gradual process, with the first tests being seen as early as August 2022. However, since the announcement at Google I/O in May, it’s taken only around a month for Google to launch the filter to their mobile search results in the US.
We will be keeping a close eye on the availability of Perspectives in the UK and we anticipate it could start to appear within search results more frequently over the next few months, although there’s no official confirmation of this quite yet.
What do we know about Perspectives so far?
At Torchbox, we’ve been testing early results for Perspectives across a variety of search query types and nonprofit subsectors. It’s still early days for this feature, and the results are US-only right now, but here’s what we know so far:
Perspectives loves forum content (including Quora)
Our experience using Perspectives so far has shown that forums such as Reddit and Quora are appearing very frequently.
“Helpful information can often live in unexpected or hard-to-find places: a comment in a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or an article with unique expertise on a topic.” - Google
The prevalence of forum content on Perspectives is significant, which makes sense when considering Google’s point about forum threads being helpful information. Subreddits appear across a range of different keyword topics, and as there’s a subreddit for almost everything, they are often highly relevant for the search query. Perspectives will sometimes just name ‘Reddit’ as the source, but the result can also include the name of the subreddit, the subreddit icon and the thread date.
Even though the example post above is from three years ago, there is engagement on the topic, with votes, comments and subscribers included as indicators of a useful result. It makes sense that factors such as forum upvotes and the amount/frequency of comments are being used by Google as evidence that the content is helpful for a searcher.
Another interesting observation was how often Quora was being used by Perspectives. It’s surprising to see Google reward the site so prominently when the paid ads are often intrusive and unrelated, particularly on mobile. We identified examples that felt particularly inappropriate (and potentially harmful), such as searches related to ‘homelessness’ leading with text ads for ‘making thousands of dollars quickly’.
Many nonprofits have active and helpful communities that provide peer support for others in similar circumstances. Currently, we’re not seeing many charity forums appearing – largely because health topics don’t trigger Perspectives as yet – but this is something that could be an opportunity in the future.
Perspectives rarely appears for health-related topics
So far, we’ve seen Perspectives be limited for health-related topics, across ‘symptoms’, ‘living with’ and ‘supporting someone with’ terms. This was also the case for mental health-related terms, including grief and bereavement.
It’s interesting that this is not the case for Google’s Search Generative Experience so far, where Google’s AI snapshot is regularly covering medical and health-related topics.
This is an area we’d expect Google to develop over time. For healthcare organisations and charities, we expect to see content where people share their experiences about conditions and treatments within the Perspectives filter. Currently, this appears to be largely off-limits for Google within Perspectives, but for terms related to ‘living with’ certain conditions, this could be a missed opportunity.
Search terms such as ‘tips for getting your first MRI scan’ and ‘how to prepare for chemotherapy’ open up the doors to a whole new way of discovering community during diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
Perspectives has some way to go for financial & donation terms
Perspectives is appearing for some financial terms, examples including ‘financial support for caregivers’ and ‘travel insurance’, which sees Reddit, YouTube and Quora posts providing advice in text and video format.
YMYL ('Your Money, Your Life') web pages contain information that impacts wellbeing, finances, health – and now civic information. Typically, keywords related to financial terms as classified as YMYL terms (as are health and medical-related topics), and require a higher level of E-E-A-T in order to rank well. This seems to be reflected in Perspectives within health topics, but less so for financial advice.
We’ve seen examples of Perspectives surfacing for terms such as ‘financial support for…’ and even wider financial terms such as ‘travel insurance’. There appears to be some guardrails on this, as Perspectives doesn’t appear consistently for all different types of financial support, but it does appear way more than we anticipated (and more than health information).
For ‘donate’ queries, we’re seeing a ‘mixed bag’ of results for Perspectives. Results are useful for donating items topics, such as ‘donate to food charity’:
The results are generally around whether it’s more impactful to donate food or money, and sharing videos of food bank donation drops, which is a potentially useful searcher query for charities within this space.
However, donate money terms typically don’t seem to trigger the Perspectives filter, and when searching with the filter on, the results aren’t always as relevant as we’d expect. Results for keywords such as ‘leave a gift in your will’ give almost entirely irrelevant results including ‘should we leave a gift for our host’ and ‘I’m leaving my job, should I get a gift for my colleagues’. Give-in-memory terms had similarly irrelevant results and keywords related to specific humanitarian appeals didn’t serve any results at all.
Perspectives comes into its own for shopping terms
Perspectives is a useful search tool for people that are researching as part of their purchase journey. The combination of YouTube videos and shorts, Reddit discussions and social media posts is ideal for collating opinions on specific products.
This is particularly relevant for nonprofits that sell specific products, or provide guides for people buying products related to their cause. An example below is for ‘bird watching binoculars’, relevant for organisations such as RSPB and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust:
The content that is performing well in Perspectives here is reviews, buying guides and opinion threads with plenty of engagement and discussion. Bringing Perspectives into the search results combines wider sources that we know people use for research, and combining this part of the user journey with shopping results widens the window that searchers are kept within the Google search interface.
Nonprofits with e-commerce or product arms should consider this supporting content for priority products; which can be served directly from the organisation, or through community/content creator partnerships.
Fundraising events are an opportunity for Perspectives
Fundraising topics are a good opportunity for nonprofits within Perspectives. Events in particular lend themselves to Perspectives due to the wide range of related supporting content that can be produced, particularly for high-commitment events such as a Marathon or Skydive.
People often share their personal experiences and reflections on charity events, like training plans, tips for fundraising more money and information about their causes of choice. This type of user-generated social content is important for creating a sense of community around fundraising events and generating future sign-ups.
Fundraising teams regularly work on this kind of supporting information and it’s great to see it being pulled into Perspectives. This could be a great opportunity to widen the reach for event content:
What can you do to prepare for Perspectives?
Similarly to ranking on Google search results, there is a significant emphasis on the quality and originality of the information. It’s early days in the UK for this feature, but to increase the chances of content relating to your organisation appearing, we recommend starting with the following:
Bridge the gap between social media and SEO
Perspectives is one of the most direct links between SEO and social media that we’ve seen so far, and digital marketing teams can capitalise on this for increased visibility. If your social and search terms are not sharing data, supporting each others’ content plans and feeding search demand into content prioritisation, there’s an opportunity to bridge the gap. In addition, if you have an engaged community, it’s a good idea to encourage user-generated content on platforms such as YouTube, Reddit and Twitter.
Optimise your forum for search
If you have an active community forum, this is something that can be considered to improve visibility in organic search. Optimising existing threads and categories, improving linking between threads and using community managers to increase engagement can contribute to increased rankings in Google search. You may also want to consider relevant schema markup for your community posts, to help Google understand your forum content more easily.
Give your YouTube SEO some attention
YouTube videos and shorts are regularly being surfaced within Perspectives, and these can be from individual creators or organisations. If your nonprofit has a YouTube channel that is regularly producing support content, you should investigate some YouTube SEO best practices. Creating optimised video titles, unique descriptions, video transcripts and encouraging engagement (thumbs up and comments) on videos will all support visibility in search results.
The relationship between Perspectives and E-E-A-T
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
It is a concept used by Google to evaluate the quality of websites and web pages and determine how likely a website is to be a useful and reliable source of information for searchers. E-E-A-T is a cornerstone of how Google assesses a website's quality.
In Google’s Perspectives announcement blog, there is an entire section of content on ‘how we help you find the expertise you need’ and a specific mention of the new E for ‘Experience’ added to E-E-A-T. These ranking signals go hand in hand with the new Perspectives feature.
“Helpful information can often live in unexpected or hard-to-find places. Our helpful content ranking system will soon show more of these “hidden gems” on Search, particularly when we think they’ll improve the results.”
Google is pushing on ‘experience’ by embedding it into the helpful content update and by releasing Perspectives that solely displays experience-based user-generated content.
If you’re interested in how well your charity's website demonstrates overall E-E-A-T, our review service offers a comprehensive assessment of your website and provides recommendations for improvement. From the authorship of your content to the authenticity of user experiences portrayed on your pages, we consider all aspects that contribute to E-E-A-T. Find out more about our E-E-A-T review service here.
This blog was authored by Kian Jones and Emma Bennett, with original research by our SEO team.